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June 19, 2008

"Mexico asks World Court to halt U.S. executions"

The headline for this post comes from the headline to this Reuters piece.  Here are some specifics from the start of the article:

Mexico asked the World Court on Thursday to take urgent steps to stop imminent U.S. executions of five Mexicans on death row who were denied their rights to consular assistance. One of the five, Jose Medellin, is due to die on August 5 in Texas, which is poised to set execution dates for the others.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled in 2004 that the United States had violated international law by failing to inform 51 Mexicans now on death row of their right to consular assistance and said the cases should be reviewed. Mexican representative Juan Manuel Gomez-Robledo said the United States was in breach of its international obligations, and asked the U.N.'s highest court to seek stays of the five imminent executions. "Five Mexican nationals ... could be executed without their convictions and sentences being given the review and reconsideration that is their right," he said.

The issue has soured relations between the United States and its southern neighbor Mexico, which opposes the U.S. death penalty. The United States will put its case later on Thursday.

Beyond being a matter of interest to folks who follow the death penalty and international law, I could readily imagine this matter raising a tricky set of issues for political dialogue for both major candidates running for US President.  Stay tuned.

June 19, 2008 at 01:42 PM | Permalink


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Doc, I expected to see a different sentencing story about Mexico today. One suspects there must be significant sentencing implications for their announced shift to an adversarial system and open trials.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jun 19, 2008 2:09:07 PM

The Mexican government should get its own house in order before taking up the cause of murderers here in the US.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 19, 2008 2:27:33 PM

I agree. The US government should get is own house in order, too, before bringing any further criminal charges against Americans or others.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jun 19, 2008 2:42:17 PM

I'm not an international law expert, but given the US's withdrawal from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention, I doubt the ICJ has jurisdiction.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Jun 19, 2008 4:16:47 PM

I think Kent might be correct on this. However, we would need to see Mexico's complaint, or whatever they are calling it.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jun 19, 2008 6:14:52 PM

The U.S. has a Constitution which should trump any dictat by any world body because we have not yet surrendered our national sovereignty. Ah, I forgot. We have globalists Bader Ginsburg, Souter, Kennedy, and such who deem wimpy European legalism to be the jurisprudential ideal.

Posted by: Helen | Jun 19, 2008 7:58:26 PM

Kent, the U.S. has already submitted to the ICJ's jurisdiction in this matter. It can't retroactively back out, just as one can't do so before a federal court here after submitting to its jurisdiction in a given matter.

Posted by: DK | Jun 19, 2008 8:57:36 PM

In any event, I doubt it matters. The Supreme Court has spoken. Texas has a judgment in hand. I suspect Medellin is going to be executed on time. And then within two hours, no one, and I mean no one, is going to care. Well, no one except a few America-haters and some doofuses in the Mexican government.

Maybe Juan Manuel will shed a few tears . . . . waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 19, 2008 9:27:18 PM

Helen, Your argument might be a tad problematic, because the Bush administration was the one that argued (unsuccessfully) that state courts had to implement the judgment of international courts. Perhaps, instead of casting political judgments (which would be unacceptable for a lawyer) you should read the Supreme Court decisions that you disagree with, and explain why they are wrong as a legal matter. It is true that we have a constitution, but it wasn’t written for lay people.

Posted by: Scotus | Jun 20, 2008 6:59:48 AM

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